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The Bye Week To-Do List for Giants

Getting healthy and keeping start in perspective are crucial

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011  |  Updated 4:56 PM EDT
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New York Giants 2011-12 Championship Season

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Here comes the Prince.

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Bye weeks are the NFL's way of telling you that you don't get something for nothing in this world.

You're getting into the groove of the football season, enjoying Sundays of wall-to-wall action and beating your friends in fantasy matchups when, all of a sudden, the NFL just rips the whole thing away from you without a warning.

There are less games, less players to plug into your lineup and it just happens week after week.

It's a real pain, although the fact that it leaves you wanting more football is a pretty good sign that the folks in the league offices know what they're doing. It's almost a shock that they haven't added a second bye week just to get everybody more hooked.

Actually, let's take that back. We don't want to be giving Roger Goodell any ideas.

At any rate, this is the week that the Giants drew the short straw, so we're stuck in appropriately gloomy weather without a game to look forward to this weekend. And since the Dolphins wait on the other side of the bye, it will be quite a while until the Giants resume the professional portion of their schedule. 

So we'll have to occupy ourselves with other thoughts, starting with the long-awaited debut of cornerback Prince Amukamara.

Everyone thought the Giants got themselves a steal when Amukamara fell their way on draft day, but a broken foot has kept the rookie from the field since his first practice.

He's back on the field now and appears set to play in games once the bye comes to an end and the Giants could really use him.

Once he's back, Antrel Rolle can stop doing the world's worst impression of a cornerback and go back to playing safety, where he will push aside Deon Grant and give the Giants the comfort of knowing that they are playing only one subpar defensive back at a time.

Pass defense has been a serious problem for the Giants through the first six weeks with Rolle taking a lead, but by no means the only, role in the problems.

Shoring up the back end while still pressuring quarterbacks with their fearsome defensive ends will make the Giants defense one that no team will want to see on the other side of the field.

The bye will also give the team a chance to get Justin Tuck back into game shape after injuries limited him to just two appearances in the first six weeks. There are other nicked up players expected to come back to the lineup, but none of them matter as much as Tuck.

Osi Umenyiora can't/won't play the run and Jason Pierre-Paul has wilted under expanded playing time, so having Tuck will allow those two players to split time and maximize their effectiveness. All three can also play on obvious passing downs to create a nightmare for offensive lines who will have to pick their poison and hope for the best.

The biggest thing that Tom Coughlin can do during the bye to get his team ready for the second half is to treat them like they've accomplished absolutely nothing to this point in the season.

Not to be a broken record about this, but the Giants have a killer schedule over the final nine games and they have a team that has never met a good start that didn't make them wildly overconfident about their abilities.

Maybe the fact that the Giants haven't blown anyone out yet will help Coughlin keep everyone in the right frame of mind, but the coach has to make it abundantly clear that the real work hasn't started yet.

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